Last night, at 01h45 as I was trying to get to bed in order to be up at 06h00 for work the next morning, I noticed that my phone was telling me I had messages. Since I was still on call until 09h00 the next morning, I went ahead and checked my messages, hoping that it wasn't anything critical. The house being not unlike a Farraday cage, unless my PCS is right next to a window, I can't use it, so it's not uncommon for either Jessie or I to miss calls on it and find out hours later that we did so.
It turned out to be the Operations group telling me that we had a critical failure in an important middleware website... at 20h00.
Now, this got my blood pumping. To be on call and miss such an important call like this... I was having visions of you're-fired dancing in my head as I called back to get details and find out what needed to be done. I found out
then that the failure had actually happened on Sunday morning, but that several other issues had cropped up around the same time and that one had fallen through the cracks, meaning it had been down for about ten hours when I got the call in the first place! I told Operations I'd drop off the call and do my best to reach somebody that had some visibility into the problem, as there wasn't anything I could do with it myself.
Three calls to my manager, and three each to three of my coworkers, resulted in twelve voicemail responses, so I called the command bridge—also known as the Oh-Shit Line—and told them we'd had a critical failure but that I couldn't get anyone on the line that knew anything about the application or how to address it. They said they'd extend my resource list a bit further and asked me to wait on the line until I heard back. I spent thirty-five minutes, roughly, waiting for someone to return, only to be told, "Well, it looks like there's nothing anyone can do with it tonight, and it's only critical during business time, so we have about five hours to address it. There doesn't seem to be anything more you can do with this, so have a good night."
At 02h30 this morning, I finally went to sleep, meaning I actually fell asleep around 03h00. At 05h00, I got another call from Operations, telling me that an automated process was down. Fortunately, this one I knew would happen and I was able to tell them that yes it was down, yes Supply Chain knew about it and yes we had it under control. They said they'd add it to the list of reports in the associated ticket, and I said that was fine. I then went back to bed at 05h15, to rise when my alarm went off at 06h00.
Total sleep time before work: just under three hours, spread across two shifts.
To say I felt like death reheated in the microwave would have been a credit to my condition. I felt utterly miserable, and it took me an hour just to will myself to sit up out of bed. When I did so, however, I started the
process of putting myself together, but at 07h30 I got an SMS from Operations informing me that another process at work had had a fatal error and that my presence as the Supply Chain on-call was requested on the command bridge again.
Now, last week it happened that I had a request to join a command bridge before work, and I decided that time that it would be easier to deal with the work call before going into the office and then drive into work than it would be to try to explain to people that I was in the car and could do nothing for ninety minutes until I arrived. That time, after the call my manager told me that if it happened again I was to call a coworker to do the remote work while I drove into the warehouse so I could make sure they had an on-site presence, which is why I had been hired in the first place. I told my mananger that I understood, and I did, so when it happened this week, I
ignored the initial page, thinking to myself that I would get to the car and dial into the bridge as soon as I was underway so I could tell them I was en route to address the problem.
Two minutes after I got the page, my manager called me. His words were something on the order of, "go ahead and get on the call, then work from home today; I know you had a rough night last night." I told him I had to get my laptop out of the car, and that I'd be on the call as soon as I had it. He said that was fine and hung up to return to the command bridge.
Help Desk called me two minutes after that, asking for the same thing. I explained the situation to them as well, and they said that was fine. So, in my head, everything was all well and good. I got on the call, we dismissed it
in short order as a known issue to which we had proposed solutions and that the systems manager had rejected as infeasible or overly expensive, and that there was nothing we could do to solve the problem without an alternate solution that nobody had yet invented. Help Desk agreed, and we ended the command bridge call. I then dialed in through the VPN and got to work.
This afternoon, I got a call from my manager. In it, he basically said that he thought I was doing a great job and knew how much work I was doing for the warehouse and the company, but that the systems manager—my
"customer" insofar as I have such a thing—had complained to the VP of Supply Chain that I wasn't doing my job because I wasn't in the office again today, and that I had a "history" of showing up late and working from home, usually because of scenarios like the one described above.
In his mind, my role at the company is to support the Bensalem facility. Not "the distribution centers" meaning Denver as well as Bensalem, but just his warehouse. To the systems manager's thinking, I was spending too much of my time worrying about things that weren't supposed to be my job, and that I was supposed to take over all the warehouse tech support and troubleshooting, and get rid of everything off my plate that didn't involve taking care of the Bensalem warehouse. That meant being in the office at 08h30 every morning Monday through Friday, and not leaving any time before 17h00 any day during that span. Period. I was there to support the warehouse
and that was it.
Unfortunately, that's not the position for which I was hired, at least as far as I, my previous manager or my current manager understood. My stated role was to support the warehouse production software and the distribution
centers—both of them. That meant being part of the on-call list, being part of the overnight monitoring team when conditions warranted, and generally doing what anyone else in Supply Chain did. That was the job that was offered to me, and that was the job I took, instead of the database development position that had been offered to me at the same time.
Had the choice been between database development and the glorified help desk job that my current role is threatening to become, I would've taken the risk on the hourly position.
Now, I have to reiterate that my manager thinks I've been doing a good job. He thinks I know my stuff and he knows how much work I'm putting in for the company. Unfortunately, he also knows that his boss' boss' boss—yes, three levels of management up from him, meaning four from me—is getting complaints directly from the systems manager that I'm not doing my job in his eyes. My manager and I agreed that the systems manager is trying to have his cake and eat it too, which is to say he wants me there from 08h30 to 17h00 doing all his glorified help desk jockeying, but that he's going to sorely miss having somebody to do all the overnight and after-hours work I do now. However, he is, as noted above, the "customer" in this, meaning my role at the company may have to change to keep him happy, or at least to give him what he says he wants until he realizes he doesn't want it.
Truth be told, I don't want it either, and if it looks like the help desk position looks like it's going to become permanent, I'm going to have to start farming my résumé a lot sooner than I wanted.
Right now, I put up with a lot for my job, but I do it because of the promise that I'm going to be learning new technologies that will expand my career options and because at least the work I do is semi-interesting to me.
Removing all of the actual analyst work and leaving me nothing but the technical grind and mechanical troubleshooting will take away one of the only things I have left to like about my work. It will dramatically lessen the time it takes me to burn out on my current position and want to go elsewhere. It will make the ninety-minute drive that much longer, the weekends that much shorter, and the daily schedule that much less tolerable.
In the next day or two, my manager, the systems manager and I will be having a conference call with the express purpose of hammering out what my actual job duties will be. I'm hoping in the course of that phone meeting that it
will come to light just how much work I do after hours and on weekends, and how much support the systems manager is getting that he doesn't even recognize because it's not traditional at-the-desk-during-business-hours
support. If it doesn't go that way, then I hope it's a very short amount of time before the systems manager realizes how much he's having to do that I used to do for him, and yields.
If that's not the case either, I hope I find something else soon.